Most every wannabe action figure in L.A. would kill for the chance to pick up where Richard Dean Anderson left off with MacGyver, ABC's inventive late-'80s adventure series. But how many of them would be willing to die for the opportunity? The WB, which is developing a rejiggered version to focus on Mac's twentysomething nephew Clay, may be about to find out. As auditions get underway, supervising producer and writer Samuel Baum tells TV Guide Online, "We chain each actor individually to a leaky nuclear reactor, furnish them with a paper clip and a fruit cup, and see if they're able to overcome the life-threatening obstacles. Whoever lives, we're going to offer the role to." Which fearless thespians stand a chance of surviving? Here are a few names that we think belong on the short list.
Jason Behr: As a soulful extraterrestrial on the WB's (and, briefly, UPN's) sci-fi serial Roswell, this matinee-idol-for-the-millennium put us in orbit this, despite the fact that cheeseball special effects frequently made him glow like a black-light poster of Elvis. So, were Behr to land in a slightly more down-to-Earth program MacGyver, for instance we bet planet Hollywood would find itself gazing at a new star.
Neil Patrick Harris: How's this for MacGyver-esque ingenuity? Using nothing more than lip gloss, Nair and a fetching schmata, the erstwhile Doogie Howser escaped from former-child-star purgatory and carved himself a new showbiz niche in musical theater. (He's currently appearing on Broadway as the androgynous Emcee in Cabaret.) Plus, as a onetime TV M.D., he's undoubtedly good with his hands.
Fabrizio Filippo: If it takes a strong performer to make a good impression in bad vehicles, then this veteran of cable sexcapades like Undressed and Queer as Folk is a real powerhouse. And is he charismatic! Had movie execs comprised the small audience that caught his sharp turn as a coked-up Leo clone on the showbiz send-up Action, we'd be willing to wager that, by now, he'd have dethroned the king of the world.
Colin Mortensen: Scoff all you like at the credibility of this Real World: Hawaii "cast member"; we'd still screen-test him for MacGyver. Why? On Lauren Graham's pre-Gilmore Girls sitcom MYOB, he deftly hid his hunkiness to play a dweeb. (He didn't even wear standard-issue TV-dork glasses.) More impressive, on The Real World, he managed to say aloha to clingy fling Amaya Brecher with only Coppertone, attitude and a blenderful of piña coladas in his arsenal.
Chad Michael Murray: Intent on making a heartthrob of this blond babe, the WB has tapped him to play one naughty boy after another. But he's more than just another pretty face. (For awhile there, he made us quit referring to Dawson's Creek as Dawson's Crock no small feat, that.) And a project like MacGyver that would utilize his sharp mind as well as his chiseled abs could be exactly what he needs to really break out.
Tyler Christopher: This pal of power couple Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar has loaded his resumé with nearly every WB show that ever was. (Well, except for Unhappily Ever After, thank God.) So, isn't it time that the frog network gave him a series of his own? After all, it's not as if the suits couldn't rest assured that he can handle the workload: Like Mac No. 1, Anderson, Christopher cut his teeth making pulses race on the daytime soap General Hospital.
Kyle Howard: Granted, this standout from the WB's Beverly Hills, 90210 parody Grosse Pointe doesn't look like a superman. (Even on his old show, he played the lead's stand-in.) But that's the whole point of MacGyver, isn't it? An ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances? Besides, behind his mischievous peepers lie reserves of empathy that Tinseltown's square-jawed would-be Tom Wellings only wish they possessed.
Erik Von Detten: We know it's a stretch to imagine this student of the Keanu Reeves Academy of Dramatic Arts comprehending the nuances of Dude, Where's My Car?, much less embodying a boy wonder who could build a Buick out of Q-tips, peach cobbler and the soundtrack to Glitter. However, there's apparently a beautiful mind behind his handsome mug. While competing on Celebrity Mole: Hawaii, the Dinotopia towhead solved a battery of math problems so quickly that we were struck dumb along with his teammates.
Which guy would you cast as MacGyver Jr.? Vote now!